This year's worthy winners unveiled...
The judging panel
Alasdair Locke, Hardy Oil & Gas - chair
Paul Atkinson, Par Equity
Vic Emery, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
Iain MacRitchie, MCR Holdings
Ian McLean, Quayle Munro
John Rendall, HSBC Scotland
Scotland plc Awards 2012 categories:
- Scottish plc of the Year
- PLC Board Member of the Year
- Large plc of the Year
- AIM/Mid-sized cap of the Year
- Outstanding private company
- Global reach award
- Sustainability award
- Social investment in Scotland award
- Digital value creation award
From engineering and transport to web hosting and online dating - our winners come from all corners of the business community
Scottish plc of the Year
Although one of the smaller plcs to have been considered for the title, the judging panel felt iomart's achievements deserved recognition. "They have gone from being a small loss-making business through to profitability and now on to building scale in what is a difficult arena; exceptionally impressive," commented one panel member.
Ten years ago the web hosting company's share price was under 5p but during 2011 reached levels more than 20 times that figure.
As well as sustained organic growth the company successfully acquired three rivals - EQSN, Global Gold and Switch Media - in the past year. It also secured new contracts for customers including financial software firm Misys, government office supplies provider Office2office and Edinburgh-based flight comparison website Skyscanner.
iomart was founded by current chief executive Angus MacSween in 1998 alongside his brother-in-law, Bill Dobbie, who went on to found another finalist in this year's plc awards, Cupid.
Plc board member of the Year
Winner: Lord Smith of Kelvin
The impact of Lord Smith - better known as Bob Smith to many in the Scottish business community - on some of Scotland's most successful companies was unanimously praised by the panel.
"You simply cannot fault what he has delivered over many years," said one of the judges of the corporate heavyweight who currently serves as chairman of Weir Group and SSE. "Very impressive on every level," said another.
After leaving school in Glasgow Lord Smith began his career in accountancy in 1963 with Robb Ferguson & Company and qualified as a chartered accountant in 1968. He went on to work in key roles for the likes of RBS. Bank of Scotland, Morgan Grenfell Private Equity and Network Rail.
In addition to his business roles he is also chairman of Glasgow 2014, the organising committee for the Commonwealth Games, and a member of the Council of Economic Advisors to the First Minister.
Large plc of the Year
Winner: Weir Group
Runners-up: Aberdeen Asset Management; Aggreko
"2011 was the year that the evidence really came through that the strategic direction Weir is pursuing is the right one," commented one of the panel members. Another judge said the technological expertise for which Weir is world-renowned was "something which Scotland could be very proud of".
The Glasgow-based company has seen particularly strong growth in emerging markets during 2011 with further significant progress forecast by many city analysts.
Aberdeen Asset Management was also highlighted as a company which had come through "real headwinds" over recent years but had emerged a stronger company. One of the judges described the company's expansion as "quite astonishing".
Aggreko was also described as "outstanding" by the panel for its success in establishing itself as a world leader in a market which is continuing to see rapid growth in demand.
Aim/Mid-sized cap of the Year
Runner-up: Craneware; Cupid
Hosting and cloud computing business iomart, one of the longest-standing names in the Scottish technology sector, was praised by the panel for its ability to adapt to exploit opportunities in a fast-moving sector. The achievements of online dating specialist Cupid led one judge to describe the business as "an absolutely stand-out success story". The company now has a staggering 54 million members in 58 countries and has delivered significant financial returns for shareholders.
The panel also felt it was a "great example of digital value creation" Hospital billing software company Craneware, which focuses entirely on the US market where it has more than 1500 customers, was also described as an "excellent company with real USP".
Outstanding Private Company of the Year
Winner: Edrington Group
Runners-up: Wood Mackenzie; Balmoral Group
"A stand-out winner," was how the panel described drinks group Edrington. "A business which continually moves forward and is a great ambassador for Scotland," said one of the judges of the group best known for its Famous Grouse brand.
The Glasgow-based company grew turnover to £553.4m in 2011, up from £468.3m the previous year, following continued strong growth in markets such as China and Russia.
Edrington also managed to increase sales of its premium brands - including single malts Highland Park and the Macallan - in the UK and US, which helped see operating profits rise by 14 per cent to £161.2m.
The panel also highlighted the highly impressive global reputation which energy research specialist Wood Mackenzie continues to build on.
Another successful financial performance by Aberdeen-based engineering group Balmoral was praised by the judges who highlighted its push into the huge Brazilian market as a development to watch.
Global Reach Award
Runners-up: Optos; Weir Group
Glasgow-headquartered temporary power group Aggreko traded in 100 countries during 2011 and of its £1.2 billion turnover just seven per cent was generated in the UK.
"They have continued to deepen what has already been a very successful strategy in international markets," said one panel member.
The progress to date of Optos' efforts to broaden its footprint also impressed the panel. The Dunfermline-based company, which specialises in retinal imaging devices, strengthened its sales network in Europe and acquired Australia-based Opto Global in a move which has given it access to markets in the Far East, Middle East, South America and Africa.
For engineering giant Weir Group, 2011 was seen by the judges as a year when the benefits of a long-term approach to exploiting opportunities in key markets really began to bear fruit. Acquisitions and expansion in China, South Korea and the US shale gas market were seen as particularly significant.
Joint winners: FirstGroup/Stagecoach Group
Runners-up: AG Barr/British Polythene Industries
In an unusual decision, the panel felt the achievements of transport groups FirstGroup and Stagecoach Group merited a joint award.
The judging panel was impressed by the scale of ambition and breadth of activity of both companies in striving to facilitate and deliver greener public transport.
Evidence of the companies working together convinced the judges a joint award was appropriate. Partnerships have been formed between the rivals in areas like Glasgow and Sheffield to promote the Greener Journeys campaign which aims to encourage new users of public transport.
The judges were highly impressed with the continuing progress made by drinks group AG Barr in reducing the carbon footprint of both its manufacturing operations and products packaging.
The panel also highlighted British Polythene Industries' pioneering role in developing significant innovations which had an impact across the wider European polythene film sector.
Social Investment in Scotland Award
Winner: Ineos Grangemouth, Services and Infrastructure
Runners-up: Martin Currie Asset Management; STV Group
The breadth of activity undertaken by Ineos within the local community saw the company triumph in the category.
"Much of what they do is also in areas where it is not obvious they are involved, which highlights their clear commitment to social investment," commented one of the judges.
As well as supporting a range of organisations and causes, Ineos undertakes a number of initiatives to promote science, engineering and technology to young people.
The involvement of staff from across fund manager Martin Currie in social investment activities was highlighted by the judges as reflecting on the positive culture at the Edinburgh company.
Broadcaster STV's success in developing the STV Appeal to tackle the causes and effects of poverty was also praised by the panel for being a "well thought-through and followed through initiative".
Digital Value Creation Award
Winner: STV Group
Runners-up: iomart; Optos Broadcaster
STV's progress in developing its business to cope with the major challenges facing the media industry saw it win the judges' vote in the first year of the category.
Using digital technology is enabling the company to move from mass broadcast communication to a more targeted relationship with its customers. ""An innovative approach to using the latest in digital technology to reshape their business model," was how one panel member described it.
Evidence that web hosting and cloud computing specialist Iomart was delivering higher than industry average customer satisfaction through digital tools was praised by the judges.
Optos' work to improve patient care by making retinal images available via a cloud-based system was also highlighted by the panel.